GW2: Tick, Tock, Time Passing

One has been trying to go back to some semblance of a normal routine in GW2…

gw2normal

…insomuch as anything in a post-Heart of Thorns world can be considered “normal.”

What’s permanently changed, I fear, is the tone of the community.

Raid guild drama is a thing now. Those that prefer optimal and effective are now at loggerheads with those that have a more set vision of their character or simply do not yet have the resources to reach said optimal and effective state.

With the tight tuning of raids, the former feel more factually justified in outright attacking the latter group (or simply silently scorning them), and well, when people get attacked, they become defensive in turn and may attack back.

I dunno. My reaction to all this is to feel less inclined to participate in the general community, ducking back into the shelter of ever-so-slightly more laissez-faire guilds (though they too haven’t been completely immune) and isolating myself – presumably up to the potential point where said guilds implode if someone can’t take it any longer.

(At which point, I guess I look for yet another guild or re-evaluate my place in the game. I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news that I’ve lost the passion to get worked up about it either way, I just feel resigned, distant and somewhat mellow about it all.

A sort of old person’s “eh, it’s inevitable, why get worked up about how the world works, just live in it the best you can and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go” indifferent attitude has pretty much overtaken me.)

On a more personal level, I have been amused to discover that GW2 life now requires more scheduling than everyday real life (work included.)

I am not as stressed out as some other people are feeling, at being “on the clock” so to speak, mostly because I have a fantastic ability to ignore said clock when I don’t feel like it.

However, since I’m also a little obsessive and occasionally follow the cult of GTD in order to stay organized, I kinda need to have it all laid out in front of me so that I know what I’ve chosen to ignore (and what shouldn’t be ignored.)

gw2schedule

So yeah, I’ve now started a Google calendar for my GW2 guild events…

I haven’t even finished adding all the stuff of my NA guild yet (most of it will be moot since I can only make Sat/Sun stuff, and I’ve already memorized those timings.)

I tend to chuckle wryly when I look at it though, at the sheer craziness level of it.

Granted, most of the green stuff are TTS events, which are very much optional, and I strictly don’t have to attend -any- event at all (as long as I’m willing to deal with the consequences, such as being removed from a progression raid roster), but I like to touch base with my guilds whenever I can, especially if I also want to do said event they’re planning to do.

Squeezing personal solo time in between all these social get-togethers has been somewhat tricky.

The irony of it is that a good part of that solo time goes to dailies (oh, a world boss daily, so check Dulfy’s world boss timer – yes, I have it bookmarked) and half-hearted attempts at achievements/collections, many of which are in Heart of Thorns, so enter the new kid on the block, GW2 wiki’s event timers, which displays the HoT zone timers in easily understandable graphical form.

I really don’t mind it as much as some, but yeah, I can see why some people might be feeling stressed out.

What’s really been pissing me off over the last few days is the sudden weird increase in reported ping.

latency

What’s really strange is that for the most part, the game plays the same and it isn’t terribly noticeable. I guess I have to commend whichever department of Anet was working on masking the effects of ping, especially when it comes to dodging AoE red circles.

I was raiding all Saturday morning with 475 reported ping, and beyond one or two accidental teleports from a blue AoE that I apparently didn’t move out in time, and a little bit of skill lag, it wasn’t exasperating or  utterly unplayable.

However, I have no idea what this actually means in terms of objective DPS dealt, if there was any impact on that front.

(Our team got to about 5% of the Vale Guardian’s health, the closest I’ve gotten so far, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next week.)

The good news is that I have absolutely ZERO desire to progress on to Gorseval while this plagues me, because I’m 100% certain that a glider malfunction WILL occur with such ping.

I learned this by utterly wasting a good bit of solo time trying to work on POIs and vistas and adventures that all required gliding.

After the fifth time my glider choked and refused to deploy while I was vainly attempting to reach the Wings of Gold aventure in Auric Basin, I thought to check my ping and discovered the abnormally high number.

(I hear some NA folks complaining about 200-300ms ping – I’m like “HAHAHAHAHA Welcome to -normal- Oceanic/SEA life. Why don’t you get gud now and see how you like it.”)

gw2tracert

A tracert to guildwars2.com suggests that the bulk of the slowdown might be happening somewhere around the Telia.net servers, which are apparently quite infamous for such issues (if only because they are a major backbone and the bulk of internet traffic goes through them or whatever.)

I can only pray that it’s just Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday week having an effect on Internet traffic and that this too shall pass.

If not, then someone somewhere needs to fix their shit.

In the meantime, this has a surprisingly mellowing effect on my stress levels because it’s like, this is -totally- out of my hands, there’s no point trying to obsess about being all optimal and effective and efficient and uber and try to be all elite successful raider bruhaha when YOU HAVE 600+ PING.

600+ ping can only be dealt with from a long-term patience mindset.

It’s either:

a) it will eventually go away and then you will have sufficient opportunity to try again and do whatever you want to do, in the long term

or

b) it won’t go away and you may as well quit this MMO and all other MMOs and go play singleplayer offline games.

There’s a certain pristine clarity that comes from basically not having any viable options beyond the basics.

“Ok, I can kill mobs solo very slowly and harvest nodes, or sit on the world boss bus. Or stay in the city and sort my inventory. Or I can quit and log off until the lag goes away. The end. That was easy.”

Blaugust Day 21: Sleep is for the Weak, and They’re All Ok By Me (On Gaming Priorities and Balance)

Yesterday, I managed to discover one thing I prioritized over writing a blog post and meeting the Blaugust deadline: SLEEP.

It was 9pm on a Friday night, all the time in the world to scratch out a blog post really, but since I’ve been nursing a mild cold that only fills up half a trash can full of tissues (as opposed to nastier ones that devours boxes of tissues and fills a trash can to overflowing) and feeling moderately woozy (which could also have been caffeine withdrawal from two Starbucks lattes downed mid-week to speed up the work day…)

…I looked from computer to bed, and bed to computer, and then said, “Forget it. Tomorrow’s Saturday. I’ll knock out two posts.”

The extra 2-3 hours feels really good this morning though. I suspect I’d been shaving off an hour or two the last few days and accumulating sleep deprivation that way.

Funnily enough, before I crashed, I managed to make time to knock out GW2 dailies and attend guild missions (and Trove dailies while feeling grumpy about how long weekly guild missions were taking this Friday.)

And dinner, of course. And a shower. Before game. Then sleep. Because health.

In my roundabout way, I’m trying to figure out how to segue into a topic that part of the blogosphere’s been talking about lately: Gaming priorities.

  • Apparently Izlain and Eri started it, with a Couch Potatoes AMA, where they talk about regrets from their gaming habits. (Which I will admit I have not prioritized any time to listen to, so am quoting off someone else’s summary. I’m a poor audio learner, ok?)
  • Braxwolf picks up the thread, where he wonders about the impact of having too many sources of short-term gratification tempting our younger generations and if this stands in the way of them being able to endure hardship for long term benefits.
  • Rowan Blaze adds on to it, pointing out that gaming is just one of a myriad other activities that it is possible to become obsessed with or addicted to, at the expense of other things. He goes on to cover gaming and its possible effects on relationships.

Then there are other posts that aren’t explicitly about gaming priorities, but seem to me to be related:

  • James over at Goobbue Crossing is feeling the grind in GW2, flooded with currencies he has little present use for and can’t figure out, and feeling under-motivated (and not really rewarded) to get past the learning hump.

Plus pretty much any and every other post that laments the fact that there are too many games out there (including those on one’s Steam list) and/or the need to focus playing only a few of those at any one time, and/or the challenge of finding enough hours in the day to knock out a blog post in addition to the above.

I find myself in total agreement with Syl’s comment over at Braxwolf’s:

There’s always something to learn in nature and it so happens that in nature too, substances that can heal you very often can harm/kill you too (aka ‘the dose makes the poison’). Games or rather escapism through games, has the potential to do a lot of good in a person’s life; it can get them through a time of hardship and tragedy, it can cure them of loneliness and insecurity. For a time. Until it stops doing these things and becomes the opposite.

The keyword is balance. Sometimes you know when to stop and re-balance, sometimes you’ll learn the hard way… It’s never too late to look at your life and change things if you really want to, especially if you’re still young and capable.

Moderation and balance, and becoming clearer in what you value, and thus should prioritize.

It’s easy to see that in Braxwolf’s case, one of his values is long-term benefits/greater good over immediate hedonistic happiness, and Rowan strongly values his relationship with Scooter, for example.

I can totally relate with James’ currency flood feeling, every time I try to get back to LOTRO, my bags overflow with things I’m sure I don’t need to bother with right yet, but have no idea where to put them in the meantime, and it feels like a hurdle I’m not willing to cross because some things about LOTRO just don’t appeal to me as much as other MMOs.

I try to play Eve Online, and while the learning hump there feels like a fun challenge to get over, I usually end up asking myself, but why would I do it? I would be paying a subscription (or grinding isk for one) to basically be someone else’s content, because I’m not really motivated by socializer or killer preferences. I’d be better off playing an MMO that hits my more favored Explorer or Achiever tendencies, and does so in a less directly competitive manner.

Different people may value different things more highly, and prioritize them differently as a result. It’s really all about balancing what we value first, and not let any of them take the upper hand and overwhelm everything else that we also value.

And if that does happen, well, it’s a learning experience… learned the hard way.

I dunno, but I rarely frame these things as a regret. Regret to me, kind of says that you wished they hadn’t happened. But in my opinion, I needed them to happen in order that I could learn valuable lessons and readjust my life as a result. One doesn’t learn by coasting through life. One only learns when one stumbles, or rams facefirst into a wall, or falls flat on one’s bum. Hurts, but learning to get up again is also another one of those important life lessons.

Incidentally, the longest continuous gaming session I ever experienced was in my foolhardy youth, where winning was everything, and my team raced two other teams on a MUD quest marathon to kill 30 raid-like bosses. It took us 9 hours. We won. One other team called it after that, and the last team gamely plodded on and finished at the 11th hour.

After that, I said “My god. That was crazy. Never again. Worth the experience once. But never, never again.”

No regrets. But I definitely learned the boundaries of one of my priorities that day.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 21.

GW2: The Krait and the Kessex Hills

There's something else in the water!

Wahey! The Halloween patch is here!

And I’m super-excited and majorly hyped!

Ironically, I haven’t even touched ANYTHING Halloween-related besides one or two random carving pumpkins and the beginning story instance (which I must happily note is apparently soloable and groupable.)

Why?

The Living Story takes another measured step!

Heading to the GW2 Reddit is always one of the initial things I do after a new patch hits, in between reading official patch notes, downloading it, scanning Dulfy’s new skin galleries and logging-in to scrutinize new changes in the Achievements tab.

The reddit threads tend to be the source of “unofficial” changes – glitches or exploits that got nerfed, inadvertent changes or screw-ups, and most interestingly to this explorer soul, the purposefully dropped but unannounced breadcrumbs left for players to discover and discuss on their own.

Someone sharp-eyed spotted a new camp with our favorite intrepid duo Marjory and Kasmeer in the Kessex Hills.

Invisible wall? Krait?

This I had got to see.

I briefly debated which waypoint to pick in Kessex Hills and eventually settled for visiting the quaggans at Moogooloo.

owmynose

And promptly ran facefirst into said invisible wall.

Piles of logs were strewn everywhere under and above the water.

newbeach

What used to be forest, was now denuded.

underwaterorcswerehere

Rising above it all, a mysterious shadowy object

shadow-base

that extended into the clouds.

shadow-top

Talking with the NPCs reveal some intriguing teasers. They suspect it’s a mesmer illusion of some kind. An asura named Mistress Kari has gone to investigate but is overdue and hasn’t returned, leaving her golem AUX-1 to wait and occupy itself by setting up the camp. Kasmeer being a mesmer has been called in as well, Marjory’s come along for whatever reason and they’re sitting around trying to figure out how to dispell the illusion and reveal what the krait are doing beneath it…

…to be continued next patch….?

In between dancing around with glee with the thought that we might be seeing more hints of Bubbles the as-yet-unexplored-in-the-lore Elder Dragon and the prospect of possibly more underwater combat sophistication and skills and new underwater zones (I’m weird, I know!)

“Self,” said I, “I have a pretty good inkling of what that shadowy structure is.”

I did, after all, engage in some elaborate reading of the wiki while speculating on the Colossus and any possible relation to the Labyrinthine Cliffs and/or Abaddon and/or the Unending Ocean and managed to make a brief sidetrek regarding krait, who also happen to all be somewhat interconnected – what with the only known instance of a Temple to Abaddon being now sunken into the Straits of Devastation as the Cathedral of Hidden Depths and infested with the reptilians.

I mentioned there was a surprising amount of lore regarding them, and was intrigued but did not cut and paste the section on their religion at the time:

Religion is at the heart of krait society, and in turn, the obelisks are at the heart of krait religion. The obelisks are rare, eerily smooth stones made from a unique material found on the ocean floor. According to the Oratuss, the priesthood of the krait, the obelisks mark the sites of the “ascension” of ancient krait prophets to some higher realm, but land-based scholars speculate that they are simply ancient krait monuments whose purpose have been long-forgotten due to the oral nature of the krait’s religious texts.

Krait doctrine fortells the return of the obelisks’ prophets, bringing with them massive armies to flood the surface of the world and destroy other species. It is to these prophets that the krait sacrifice their slaves, believing that they will serve the prophets as they expand their otherworldly armies. The krait regularly use magical and mathematical means to attempt to predict the time of the prophets’ return, but have yet to be successful.

Like their obelisks, all krait are steadfast and immobile in their beliefs. Their legends say those on land were driven out of the sea by the prophets and forbidden to return. This regarded with a degree of scepticism by other races but the krait refuse to listen such things and are happy to kill to ensure that the krait religion is not defamed. All krait are willing to die for the continuity of their species and for the cause of their prophets.

The religion of the krait is what allows the Oratuss to control the entire race. Religious “texts” followed by the krait are passed down verbally through these priests and priestesses. The vast length of the texts allows the priests, who have dedicated their lives to the texts, to make subtle changes to the wording and manipulate the interpretation of their legends to serve their purposes and support their power.

I suspected we would be seeing the krait again eventually, since a decent amount of work seems to have gone into developing their backstory and culture from the beginning of the game, but had no idea it was going to be this soon.

Which is utterly, utterly cool.

That shadowy structure, you ask?

I give you the concept art by Kekai Kotaki.

800px-Krait_obelisk_land_concept_art
(Images from GW2 wiki)
424px-Krait_obelisk_major_concept_art
(Images from GW2 wiki)

Krait obelisks.

They make me swoon. I am utterly in love.

I cannot wait.

Coincidentally, there are references to krait prophets somehow ‘ascending’ to higher realms and here we have Scarlet having touched the Eternal Alchemy and all that thematic ‘gods’ and ‘mists’ jazz.

And we already have invasion technology in place – a very popular activity at that. (Calling it here, armored scale prices will plunge when the krait invasions start, just as ancient bones are plummeting from Halloween now…)

I guess Tequatl might be dropping rare aquabreathers for a reason, after all.

Hindsight, unfortunately, while 20/20, is still hindsight.

I’m rather miffed that I did not make the link of the beach and tree silhouettes and sky in the background of the first picture with the Kessex Hills, which would have hinted at a planned creeping krait invasion as a potential Living Story development some day.

I can only make the excuse that I don’t play human characters very often and thus spend very little time in that zone.

This also unfortunately means that I don’t have any ‘before’ screenshots of Kessex Hills unless I took one or two by pure chance, and do not feel like trawling through thousands of them on the off chance that I did.

Luckily, the wisdom of crowds being what it is, -somebody- else must have and Google Image search and the GW2 wiki come to the rescue yet again.

Little did he know that the background would be more important than his new set of leather armor.
Little did he know that the background would be more important than his new set of leather armor.

Fortunately for our purposes, he left his minimap in the screenshot, and it was easy enough to figure out the spot where he stopped.

newkessexhills

Fairly drastic clear-cutting has taken place around the same area.

I miss the flowers the most.

As for the old Auld Red Wharf?

Image from GW2 wiki
Image from GW2 wiki

datpumpkin

Yeah.

As usual, I’m kinda torn again between sorrowfully missing the old stuff and kinda gleeful that things are changing.

I guess it’s easier to swallow this time around because all we’re missing for now is a couple of forests that looked all the same anyway and a ruined village that just got even more flattened.

But you know, I’d get those last looks at the view clear across the lake while you still can.